West Ham boss Sam Allardyce called for Louis van Gaal’s long-ball tactics to be scrutinised after Manchester United rescued a 1-1 draw at Upton Park.
A superb goal from Cheikhou Kouyate, the midfielder deployed in defence due to the absences of Winston Reid and James Collins, had looked like giving West Ham a deserved first Premier League win over United in seven years and at the 13th attempt.
But Daley Blind scored in stoppage-time to rescue a scarcely deserved point after a lacklustre performance from the visitors which was summed up by a second-half miss by Radamel Falcao.
United’s equaliser came after Marouane Fellaini had been sent on to cause havoc in the air.
“I suppose in the end we couldn’t cope with long-ball United,” Allardyce said after the game.
“It was just, ‘thump it forward and see what they could get’ and in the end it paid off for them.”
He added in his post-match media conference: “You (the media) might just criticise Louis van Gaal for playing long balls as much as you’ve sometimes criticised me for being direct.
“(But) it’s paid off for them, so you can’t knock it in the end.”
The Hammers boss lauded a near-flawless performance from his injury-depleted side.
Allardyce said: “We have to give the players credit for how well they defended as well as how well they played in possession, which was almost the perfect performance.
“It’s a fantastic performance. Not a result we deserved or wanted, but we’re back to a level that we know we can play at.
“It was just a great shame we conceded a goal as late as we did, which wasn’t the normal goal you concede against Man United.
“A punt up the middle, it was actually our player (Carl Jenkinson) that headed it, so it wasn’t any great play at all.
“It’s a great shame we didn’t hold out, but I just feel Man United have David de Gea to thank for keeping them in the game for that long, with the amount of saves he had to make.”
Van Gaal insisted the tactics were necessary after a woeful opening half from his side which left him “disappointed” and “frustrated”.
“I cannot say that I am very happy with the point, because I’m very disappointed about the poor first half and we can do much better,” Van Gaal said.
“In the second half after three minutes they scored and we gave that ball away.
“Then my team showed fantastic spirit and also fantastic football. We created a lot of chances, three open chances. My opinion is that we could’ve won this game.
“I cannot say that I am pleased. I’m more frustrated.”
Van Gaal attributed his side’s display to being unable to win the second balls after winning possession in the air and called for his creative personnel to play their own game, or risk losing their places to more physical players.
He added: “We need the guts to play football along the floor. That we have done in the second half.
“With him (Fellaini) we have more power. With Adnan (Januzaj) and (Angel) di Maria, we have more creative players. The second ball you cannot always win with these players.
“But you have to win (the ball), otherwise I have to line-up always (with) players like Fellaini.”
United should have equalised sooner, but Falcao sliced wide after a one-two with Robin van Persie.
“He was angry with himself,” Van Gaal added.
“I’m always happy when we create chances, because then you can score goals. The goal is coming the next match.”
United finished the game with 10 men as Luke Shaw was sent off for two bookable offences.
Van Gaal insisted the second yellow card, given by referee Mark Clattenburg in the final moments for a foul on Stewart Downing, should not have been a foul.
The Dutchman said: “It was in front of me. The player (Downing) was jumping, but I think it was tactically not so smart of Shaw - but he doesn’t touch him.”